I know one should never try out a new recipe for big dinner parties, and yet I seem to be incapable of remembering this wisdom. So true to form, for a recent dinner of 8, I tried these two cobblers, adapted from a Erin McDowell‘s recipe in Fine Cooking.
There are many combinations you can do with these, but I opted for plums with rosemary and a maple-glazed biscuit & ginger blueberries with a lemon biscuit. They were the perfect pair, one (plums) a little tart, and the other a sweet, end of summer specialty that reminded me of picking wild blueberry bushes so many years ago.
This can be made with peaches, blackberries, pears, apples, or almost any other late summer fruit you can get your hands on. The basics for the dough and filling are the same in both versions, with little additions for flavor added. You could also supplement the sugar with maple syrup or honey, if refined sugar is not your deal (I’m definitely trying apple with maple syrup substitute next!).
It’s as simple process, and can be done all together, without having to wait too long for dough to chill. First is to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in the food processor. Then add the butter in, until well mixed but not overdone.
Next the fluffy flour mixture goes into a bowl, with a dimple made in the middle. Into this space you pour the cream (local & organic if possible!). Gently mix it all together, and put in the fridge while you prep the fruit.
Plums can be a challenge, for when they are even a little ripe, they become liquidy goodness that is very difficult to cut. So if possible, I would use either a mixture of soft & firm plums, or just the firm ones (the last time I made this, there were a lot of ripe ones, and they created excess juice). Slice the fruit, then place in a bowl with a little corn starch (more if the fruit is more juicy, less if not), sugar/honey/maple syrup, and any additional flavorings like rosemary, sage, thyme. Mix it all together, until the fruit is evenly coated, then pour into a buttered baking dish.
While that is absorbing, we can roll out and cut the biscuits. I absolutely love these old Italian biscuit cutters I found in my mother’s kitchen drawer. Inside there are 10 neatly nestled biscuit sizes.
With these treasures in hand, it is time to roll out the dough. I happened to grow up down the road from King Arthur Flour, so have a lot of their cooking equipment. As you will see, this rolling mat is no exception. It wasn’t until about a year ago I began using one for pastry, but it has really helped keep excess flour off the table (and floor!). Roll out or pat the dough, depending on how cold it has gotten. It doesn’t need to be perfect, for biscuits are more beautiful when they are uneven. When the dough is about 3/4 inch thick, begin to cut your circles. You can reshape the dough after a bunch of circles have been cut, and keep going until there is nothing left.
Place the biscuits atop the fruit, with a little space in between. You can get creative again here with how the biscuits are covered. Either with a honey glaze, or perhaps a maple-cream glaze (as these were), or an egg wash (blueberries below). Then into the 400° oven until the biscuits are golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
You can either let it cool for half an hour, until the juices are a little re-absorbed, and enjoy it warm, or at room temperature hours later (this is what makes is such a good dinner party dish). Below are the images for the blueberry version, and the recipe.
2 1/3 C all purpose flour
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter (quartered & chopped)
1 C heavy cream
Flavor extras such as grated citrus, almond extract, vanilla, etc.
– In a food processor, combing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix for a few seconds, then add butter. Mix for additional 20 seconds, pulsing (This is also where you would add any flavor extras). Move mixture into a bowl, creating an indent in the middle. Pour cream into indent, and gently combine. Mix just until there is no extra flour – do not over mix. Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge.
4 lbs fruit
1/8 to 1/4 C sugar, honey, or maple syrup
1 T cornstarch (more if fruit is particularly juicy)
Any additional flavorings (rosemary, thyme, sage, ginger, lemon juice)
– Cut fruit if applicable. Place in bowl. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch with your sweetener of choice. Cover fruit with this mixture, then add any flavor extras (make sure you finely chop any herbs you might use). Once all the fruit is covered, pour into a buttered baking dish 1 1/2 inches to 3 inches deep.
Roll or pat your dough on a lightly floured surface. Once it is 3/4 inch thick, cut out your biscuit shapes, placing them on the fruit with a little space in between. You can reshape the dough and keep cutting biscuits until all the dough is gone (if you have extra, you can bake them on a cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes). Brush the biscuits with a glaze or wash – for maple cream, combine 2 T heavy cream with 2 T maple syrup, whisk together, then brush. For egg wash, combine 1 egg with 1 T water, whisk & brush).
Place in the center of an oven pre-heated to 400° for 30 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Rotate half way through (if using a glaze, re-apply when you turn the dish). Remove and cool for 50 minutes to a few hours before serving.
These were a big hit at the dinner party, especially because it gave our friends a feeling of choice. And since not everything was consumed (even with multiple happy eaters having thirds) they were delicious the next morning for breakfast. Since the evenings are getting cool in Vermont, we left them on the counter over night, which we would certainly not do when in Texas. If you still have some left, you can put them in the fridge for a few days after – just don’t get freaked out by the way the biscuit bottoms might become a little soft when absorbing all that great fruit liquid.
I encourage anyone who loves this recipe to check out more of Erin’s work, and her elaborations on this dish – her site is inventive and delectable.
I hope you enjoy! And as always, welcome your comments, ideas, & questions.
xo – K